Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pit Bulls Do Kill

A few weeks ago, a pregnant woman in Pacifica, California was mauled and killed by her male pit bull.

I have great esteem for persons who adopt animals from shelters. I'm not sure if the dog that killed this woman was from a shelter. It doesn't really matter. The woman's trust was misplaced. I'm sure this poor woman and her husband had endless stories about how loving and tame this dog acted-- before this tragedy.

I know, that no matter what, people will come out of the woodwork, praising their pit bull/pit bull mix animals for their loyalty and calm demeanor. "This is another attack on the breed," they'll say. "You know how many pit bulls there are that are great, friendly dogs? It's not the dog's fault, it's the owner."

Let's stop. It is the breed. Pit bulls are the most likely breed of animal to be involved in fatal dog attacks on humans. I can offer four cases of lethal pit bull attacks in the SF Bay Area alone. A thirteen year old boy was attacked in his basement in San Francisco by a pit bull and died. Two toddlers that I know of have been killed in the Bay Area by pit bulls. And finally, there is the case of the pregnant woman most recently. I won't count the little East Bay kid maimed and disfigured by a pit bull-- he didn't die but only suffered horribly.

I know people will despise me for questioning their right to own these animals that are the equivalents of loaded guns. It's the American way, and I've already been the subject of hate posts when I questioned the egos of people who own large, dangerous breeds.

Honestly, I think most people who feel they are capable of owning pit bulls without trouble (attacks on other dogs; attacks on humans; pits running loose in the neighborhood after escaping either from their owners or their yards) aren't capable. Isn't part of the mystique of owning a bad ass dog the fact that the dog is a bad ass? You ever see a t-shirt with a cocker spaniel snarling and looking like a tank ready to attack? These shirts are owned by pit bull owners.

I have a pit bull living across the street from me. He runs loose sometimes. Now I have to worry about my own dog in her own yard.

There are some towns and counties that insist that all pit bulls be spayed or neutered. I agree with that. Only reputable, licensed breeders should be allowed to own pit bulls for breeding. I think other laws could be enacted that might stem some of the problems. Pit bulls that attack humans should be destroyed. Period. Pit bulls that kill other dogs should be destroyed. Period. Any dog that has fought and been rescued should be spayed or neutered. Any pit from a shelter should be spayed or neutered. A two strike law for any pit bull that attacks other animals, dogs, cats, etc. should be enacted. Perhaps a three strike law for pits that run loose should also be on the books.

Here's the thing. I think pit bulls as a breed have been raised for their agressiveness. This is dangerous. Dog fighters and misguided owners have bred these dogs not for their tameness, but for their fearsomeness. These traits might be a good thing when these dogs fought larger creatures in the old days, but not now. It's a crap shoot today. If a pit reverts to its primal instincts, someone is going to get hurt. That's not right or fair to other dog owners or dogs.

I saw a segment on a television show about a breeder of foxes in Eastern Europe. This breeder started treating some of his foxes like pets. Within one generation, these foxes started looking and acting more like domestic dogs. Imagine. One generation. Pit bulls bred for friendliness and calmness could be changed as a breed fairly quickly.

We need to stop being naive and protect ourselves and our dogs. Pit bulls need to change. We don't need these dogs to be killers anymore.